Importance of nature | Friends of the Earth (2023)

Nature is essential to our lives – from the food on our plates to the clothes we wear, from medicines to mental health benefits.

Are you getting enough nature?

It’s easy to think nature will always be with us. But even in my lifetime, birds like starlings and house sparrows have declined so much they’re now listed as endangered.

In fact, nature is faring worse in the UK than in most other countries. The latest State of Nature report shows that over half our wild species – plants, insects, birds, mammals – are in decline.

Importance of nature | Friends of the Earth (1)

Overlooking the importance of nature, as we go about our busy lives, makes it easier for it to disappear right in front of our eyes.

Are you in nature deficit?

First, how was your last holiday? Did you spend any time in nature? Shut your eyes and see if you can recall how you feel about the last time you spent time in nature.

What about your normal busy day away from stunning views, beaches and sunsets? Does your daily routine give you any experiences of nature?

Perhaps you don't have the time to notice the birds calling, the bees buzzing and to enjoy the colours of the changing seasons in a local park, even in your own street.

If you’re not getting enough nature you're not alone.

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Importance of nature | Friends of the Earth (2)

Dealing with nature deficit

Seven out of 10 people admit they’re losing touch with nature. And more than a third of parents admit they could not teach their own children about British wildlife.

Pressures of daily life mean we’re increasingly detached from nature even though nature in many forms is there for us. Yes, like love, nature is all around – and it’s free.

Even watching wildlife programmes online or on the TV costs — but it’s still no substitute for experiencing nature direct. You don’t have to go on safari, to the Amazon rainforest or to the Grand Canyon for fulfilling experiences of nature.

Great as those places are, nature is also on our doorstep all year round. Even in winter. Just add your own curiosity, a chunk of attention span and a dollop of patience.

What do people think about the importance of nature?

Asked to give their favourite views, Britons tend to put natural heritage before buildings and cityscapes. Yes, Brits favour views of Wales’ Gower Peninsula and Northern Ireland’s Mountains of Mourne over sights like Waterloo Bridge, Blackpool Tower and Stonehenge.

Not even the poet William Wordsworth put people off voting for the “long, stern and desolate" views of Cumbria’s Wastwater and its scree slopes to the Scafell peaks as Britain’s favourite.

Dramatic landscapes fire our imagination, fill our hearts and put our lives into perspective. But everyday experiences of nature give us a boost too. It’s like having our very own free Natural Health Service.

Wild child: importance of nature to children

Children especially have a natural affinity with nature. Evidence is growing of how regular contact with nature boosts new born children’s healthy development, supports their physical and mental health and instils abilities to assess risk as they grow. It even underpins their informal learning and academic achievement.

For children and adults alike, daily contact with nature is linked to better health, less stress, better mood, reduced obesity – an amazing list of features no other product can ever match.

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This affinity tends to get knocked out of them as they grow. They come under pressure to put away childish things in favour of passing exams and getting a "proper job".

Along with digital distractions and legitimate fears about playing outdoors, the pressures are removing children from nature before our very eyes. Who can blame them for thinking an apple is a gadget first and a fruit second?

Yet for children and adults alike, daily contact with nature – being in green, open space, near healthy rivers, exploring nature’s colours, sounds, tones and textures — is linked to better health, less stress, better mood, reduced obesity. That’s already an amazing list of features no other product can ever match.

Importance of nature | Friends of the Earth (3)

Nature’s importance to our health

Nature performs major miracles for us every day – from giving us great views and helping to prevent floods to regulating the weather and keeping us supplied with clean water, fresh air and plentiful food.

When running the tap or doing the shopping it’s easy to forget that without healthy soils and diverse plant and animal species doing their thing our lives would be tougher and poorer.

Trees in towns cool us in summer and trap air pollution. Bees pollinate our crops, putting food on our table and in our stomachs. Even much-maligned wasps have uses such as controlling aphids.

However smart we’ve become as a species, without diverse nature and a healthy functioning natural environment we’ll be as lost as a tourist without a map app.

Loss of nature

Beyond our shores, tropical forests regulate global temperatures and support countless wild species — from berries used in medicines to gorillas and other primates a few genes away from ourselves. Yet the forests are being felled for timber, mining and cattle ranching.

Mangroves help absorb storm surges and shelter small fry from big fish until they’re ready to venture into the open seas. Yet mangroves are being destroyed by coastal development.

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We're removing the vital links in the safety chain of life — pulling away life’s building blocks in a risky global game of Jenga

Healthy seas and oceans regulate the planet’s temperature. But we’re undermining their ability to do this by turning them acidic with our wasteful energy policies and by removing species, as we over-exploit the seas for short-term profit.

Importance of nature | Friends of the Earth (4)

We’re busy taking out sharks, tuna and other top predators from the oceans and leaving squid and jellyfish to take their place in the food chain. This is upsetting millions of years of natural balance in less than a century.

We're recklessly removing the vital links in the safety chain of life — pulling away life’s building blocks in a risky global game of Jenga.

The value of nature

Talking of risk, on one level it's absurd to even try to work out the financial value of nature to us all. How can we ever accurately value bees pollinating apples or healthy soils and forests holding back flood waters?

The UK’s Office of National Statistics put the financial value of just 3 of the UK’s natural ecosystems (woodlands, farmland and freshwater habitats such as lakes) at £178bn. That’s 9 noughts on the end: 178,000,000,000.

It’s a mind-bending amount and is similar to the value of exports from the Euro zone (€) to the rest of the world. NHS spending is about £140bn.

It’s easy to think nature will always be with us. But such wishful thinking depends on whether we let nature go to the wall or act to repair, restore and maintain it.

What about the value of the world’s natural ecosystem services? A first estimate was put at an average $33 trillion annually – that’s 12 noughts or a million million.

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More to the point, this value of nature is nearly twice global GNP of $18 trillion.

The figures will have changed since these first calculations but it underlines the obvious - that nature is both invaluable and priceless. Put another way, if we’re silly enough to let nature decline can we afford to put it back? Three guesses.

That matters when one considers another big global study of the state of nature and its value. The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that approximately two-thirds of the world’s natural ecosystems are degraded or being used in irresponsible, unsustainable ways. “Every year we lose three to five trillion dollars’ worth of natural capital, roughly equivalent to the amount of money we lost in the financial crisis of 2008–2009”, the report said. Every year.

Importance of nature | Friends of the Earth (5)

It’s easy to think nature will always be with us. But it depends on whether we let nature go to the wall or act to repair, restore and maintain it. Right now species are going extinct and the natural systems that support all life on Earth are being eroded faster than ever before.

Even once common species like bees, hedgehogs, starlings and house sparrows are in trouble – going missing from our streets and neighbourhoods. The bees and birds lose out big time – and so do we.

Is it beyond the wit of humankind to bring nature back from the brink? It’s in our own interests to do so. That said, we do seem to be the only species on Earth that actively destroys its own home and life-support systems.

“The effect that human beings are having on the natural world is profound. Because we are out of touch with the natural world… most of us don’t see the effects.”

Sir David Attenborough

Yet, with nature doing so much for us day in and year out, the advertising industry should be rushing to promote it… ‘New, improved nature. It will change your life.’

Nature in our hands

Friends of the Earth has a 45-year track record of working with people to protect nature. There are plenty of ways to support our nature work, including signing our petition to double tree cover in the UK. Thank you.

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This article has been updated. It was originally published in October 2017.

FAQs

Why is it important to stay connected with nature? ›

People with good nature connectedness tend to be happier

Nature can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity and can facilitate concentration. Nature connectedness is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, particularly lower depression and anxiety.

What is the significance of nature's gifts? ›

Nature gifts many benefits to humans. From the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat, nature enhances our wellbeing and freely provides the essentials for our survival. For decades, scientists and environmentalists have discussed the concept of ECOSYSTEM SERVICES.

What are the benefits of being surrounded by nature? ›

From a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking in the wilderness, exposure to nature has been linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.

How important is to conserve nature and the creatures that live on the earth? ›

The most obvious reason for conservation is to protect wildlife and promote biodiversity. Protecting wildlife and preserving it for future generations also means that the animals we love don't become a distant memory. And we can maintain a healthy and functional ecosystem.

How do you connect with nature in life? ›

Grow flowers, plants or vegetables, get a bird feeder and take in the sights and sounds around you. If planting isn't your thing, you can also connect to nature through stories, art and sound recordings. Watching films or TV programmes about nature are also great way to connect with and reflect on nature.

What are the values of nature? ›

Ten areas of values associated with nature are recognized: (1) economic value, (2) life support value, (3) recreational value, (4) scientific value, (5) aesthetic value, (6) life value, (7) diversity and unity values, (8) stability and spon- taneity values, (9) dialectical value, and (10) sacramental value.

What is the best quote for nature? ›

"Preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, it's the only home we've ever known." “The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.” “Tranquility, serenity, and beauty of nature taught me how to find happiness in life and in the silence of eternity.” “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

What is the most precious gift to humanity by nature? ›

(i) Water is the most precious gift of nature as life is not possible without water. We need water for daily use at home and for agriculture. (ii) The main cause of water scarcity is our ever-increasing population and over-exploitation of water resources.

What makes you feel connected to nature? ›

Nature connection can be viewed in terms of engaging with nature through our senses and immersing ourselves in our natural surroundings. Nature connection can also be seen as the mental, physical and emotional benefits that can be felt as a consequence of spending time in nature.

What does nature provide us with? ›

Nature provides us with water, clean air and food, and raw materials for medicines, industry and buildings. Our crops rely on insect pollination and the complex biological processes that create soil. Enjoying parks, landscapes and wildlife improves our health and well-being.

Why is it important to care for the Earth and preserve the environment? ›

Our Earth provides us with everything we want, but also everything we need to survive! Earth provides the food we need for fuel, water we need for hydration, air and the oxygen we breath, raw materials, literally everything we need comes from this one planet.

What is the importance of protecting the wildlife on Earth? ›

From offering a wealth of natural medicines to safeguarding us from climate shocks and improving soil health, we need wildlife for our survival, well-being and prosperity. However, the way we live and work – from the food we eat to how we build our infrastructure – is causing a steep decline in their numbers.

Why is it important to save the environment? ›

1. environmental protection saves lives. World hunger, global warming, increasing natural disasters, polluted air, water and soil, pesticide use in the fields, Species extinction, crop failures - we must not believe that we, as the only living beings on a sick planet, remain healthy.

How do we express love for nature? ›

12 Ways to Love Our Planet
  1. Volunteer your time to help clean things up. ...
  2. Dress more consciously. ...
  3. Give up single use plastic. ...
  4. Plant a tree. ...
  5. Eat seasonal & local produce. ...
  6. Reduce your meat intake. ...
  7. Help to save the bees. ...
  8. Conserve energy.
Feb 10, 2019

How do you feel nature energy? ›

Here are six ways to fit your nature quota into your routine.
  1. Take a Daily Walk or Run Outdoors. We all know exercise is good for us. ...
  2. Hit the Hammock. ...
  3. Plan a Weekend Getaway in Nature. ...
  4. Meditate Outside. ...
  5. Schedule Walk and Talks. ...
  6. Head to a Park.
Jun 2, 2016

What valuable lessons does the nature teach us? ›

Nature is time-perfect, committed, devoted, selfless and principled. Origin of discipline, beauty and art, every element of hers teaches way too many things but adapting even a percent can change our lives for good. “Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”

What are the benefits of nature? ›

Nature is good for our health
  • reduce migraine and severe headaches.
  • increase our pain threshold.
  • improve mood and self-esteem.
  • calm us down and help us deal with stress.
  • decrease depression, anger, anxiety, hostility and frustration.
  • help us concentrate, think more clearly and learn new things.
May 20, 2020

How do you respect nature? ›

Respect Nature Principles
  1. Know where you go.
  2. Stay on trails.
  3. Minimise camping impact.
  4. Keep nature clean.
  5. Make fire responsibly.
  6. Show respect.
  7. Respect wildlife.
  8. Respect others.

Why is nature so inspiring? ›

Spending time in nature also inspires a sense of awe. This feeling that the world is so much bigger than you can comprehend leads to “expansive thinking,” which allows us to consider different perspectives and can lead to innovative ideas.

How do you describe the beauty of nature? ›

When you see a waterfall, an undisturbed meadow, or the glassy surface of a lake, it might be difficult to put the beauty into words. But, thanks to the efforts of natural poets and authors, we can use words like ethereal, verdant, and pristine to describe nature's beauty.

What is nature in simple words? ›

Nature is all the animals, plants, and other things in the world that are not made by people, and all the events and processes that are not caused by people. The most amazing thing about nature is its infinite variety.

What are the three free gift of nature? ›

The super fundamental assets for creatures are food, water, and domain.

What are the three gifts of nature? ›

The “three beautiful things” to which its name refers are the fertility of the land, the abundance of water and its unassailable location on the summit of a mountain.

What are the five gifts of nature? ›

The long range of mountains, the wide oceans, the sparkling streams, the dense forests, the animals, birds and insects are the gifts of nature.

Why does nature make us feel at peace? ›

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.

What do you call a person connected to nature? ›

synonyms for nature-lover

Compare Synonyms. Green Panther. activist. conservationist. ecologist.

What is a word for being one with nature? ›

Eutierria helps us transgress our individualistic, isolated experience of the world by feeling we are one with all nature, even when we arrive at it through intensely focused sensory experience.

Why nature is the most important? ›

Our forests, rivers, oceans and soils provide us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we irrigate our crops with. We also rely on them for numerous other goods and services we depend on for our health, happiness and prosperity. These natural assets are often called the world's 'natural capital'.

What is the main purpose of nature to outdoor activities? ›

Spending time in nature and the natural light can improve your mood and reduce stress and depression. Engaging in physical activity produces similar benefits and often times relaxes and cheers people up. Your self-esteem will improve. Outdoor exercise stimulates all five senses in a way that indoor activities cannot.

How does nature make us appreciate? ›

“Spending time in a natural environment may help us develop a sense of ownership over our physical selves, give us a greater respect for our bodies, and a better understanding of what our bodies can do rather than what our bodies look like.

What are the 10 importance of wildlife? ›

It balances nature's elements and the preservation of food chains. Wildlife provides a large gene pool. It aids in the conservation of a region's species. Wildlife provides different products such as foods and drugs.

Why is it important to protect wild animals and forests? ›

Forests should be conserved as they provide us with oxygen. They cause rainfall. They prevent soil erosion. They have numerous medicinal herbs.

What is the significance of nature's gifts and what is our role in preserving? ›

Our forests, rivers, oceans and soils provide us with the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we irrigate our crops with. We also rely on them for numerous other goods and services we depend on for our health, happiness and prosperity. These natural assets are often called the world's 'natural capital'.

What are the significance of the three gifts? ›

The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. This dates back to Origen in Contra Celsum: "gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God."

What is the main purpose of spiritual gifts? ›

The purpose of the spiritual gifts is to edify (build up), exhort (encourage), and comfort the church. It is generally acknowledged that Paul did not list all of the gifts of the Spirit, and many believe that there are as many gifts as there are needs in the body of Christ.

Why is nature a gift from God? ›

The beauty of nature is God's gift to all of us. When we are tired or sad, nature's beauty brings peace and comfort to us. It also inspires man to create beautiful things like painting and poetry himself All around us we can see the beauty of nature.

What is nature's message to humanity *? ›

Nature Is Speaking​

People are taking more from nature than it has to give, and as a result, we're putting our own lives on the line. Nature's message to humanity is simple: Nature doesn't need people. People need nature.

What is the significance of the three? ›

Throughout human history, the number 3 has always had a unique significance, but why? The ancient Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, postulated that the meaning behind numbers was deeply significant. In their eyes the number 3 was considered as the perfect number, the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding.

What does three symbolize in Christianity? ›

The number three biblically represents divine wholeness, completeness and perfection. If ever there were a desire to highlight an idea, thought, event or noteworthy figure in the Bible for their prominence, the number three was used to put a divine stamp of completion or fulfillment on the subject.

What did Paul say was the purpose of spiritual gifts? ›

In 1 Corinthians 12–14 Paul taught that there are divers spiritual gifts that can be granted to faithful members of the Church. These gifts enable Christ's followers to serve and edify others, thereby creating greater unity in the Church.

What is the highest spiritual gift? ›

Wisdom is considered the first and the greatest of the gifts. It acts upon both the intellect and the will. According to St. Bernard, it both illumines the mind and instills an attraction to the divine.

What is the greatest gift God gave us? ›

So, instead of abandoning us or retaliating against us, he offers us a gift, the best gift that has ever been given: his Son, crucified and raised to life again.

What are the three spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit? ›

Thomas Aquinas says that four of these gifts (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and counsel) direct the intellect, while the other three gifts (fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord) direct the will toward God.

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